World No.1 Andy Murray will be looking forward to reach his fourth consecutive French Open semi-final when he takes on Japan's Kei Nishikori later today. After a disappointing start in 2017, Murray seems to have turned things around at the French Open but the Scot is set to face his toughest yet when he comes up against Nishikori.
Not a lot of people expected Murray to get this far in the tournament given how much he has been struggling in 2017, so far. He had won only one tournament this year which was at the Dubai Tennis Championship and reached only two finals with the other appearance coming at the Qatar Open.
The only other tournament where he put in a decent show was at the Barcelona Open where he reached the semi-finals. However, with each passing game at the French Open, Murray has been getting better and better and hopefully that will be good enough for him to make it to the next round as he looks to remain world no.1 by the end of the year.
He defeated young Russian Karen Khachanov in the previous round in straight sets to set up this clash against Nishikori and the Scot believes that he probably played the best tennis overall.
"I think today was probably the best I have played overall. It was difficult conditions. It was pretty windy out there. Each match I feel like I played better. I have hit the ball cleaner and started to see the right shots at the right moments," ATP's official website quoted Murray as saying.
"I've come a long way the last 10 days or so... I said after the last match that what's important is what you're thinking right before the following point. Just now I'm quite clear with what I'm doing".
As for Nishikori, the Japanese tennis star was pushed to the limit in his last two games at the French Open when he was up against Hyeon Chung and then Fernando Verdasco. His match against Chung was a two-day five-setter and at one point it looked like he would lose but rain disrupted the play and Nishikori was able to the win after the match restarted.
His match against Verdasco was another tough test and after getting hammered 6-0 in the first set, he fought back and completely dominated the Spaniard in the next three sets winning 6-4, 6-4, 6-0 to make it to the quarter-finals.
Nishikori himself was a bit shocked as to how he won the match after getting humiliated in the first set and said that his match against Verdasco was really tough. The Japanese cannot afford a repeat of that performance against Murray if he wants to make it to the next round.
The world no. 9 entered the French Open not in the best of shapes as he struggled with a wrist injury during the clay court season and at times you could see him struggling, but he felt he played perfect tennis in his final set against Verdasco.
"Physically I'm okay. a little bit sore. I couldn't do anything in the first set but I tried tried to play a little more heavy and a little more aggressive. But still it was a really, really tough battle. There was so many long rallies. I don't know how I got the second and third sets. The fourth, I played perfect tennis," Nishikori said.
Nishikori and Murray have met 10 times in the past and the world no.1 has won eight of those matches. The last time they met on clay was in 2015 at the Madrid Open which Murray won but their last Grand Slam encounter was at the US Open last year and Nishikori won that. So this match could go either way.
Where to watch
The French Open quarter-final match between Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori is set to start at around 3:30pm local time, 7:00pm IST and 2:30pm BST.
TV and live streaming information
India: TV: Star Sports Select HD1. Live Streaming: Hotstar.
Europe: TV: EuroSport. Live Streaming: EuroSport Player.
UK: TV: ITV. Live Streaming: ITV Hub.
Canada: TV: TSN. Live Streaming: TSN TV.
USA: TV: Tennis TV and NBC Sports. Live Streaming: NBC Sports Live.
Australia: TV: Fox Sports. Live Streaming: Foxtel.
Middle East: TV: Bein Sports Arabia. Live Streaming: Bein Sports Connect.